Winter Texan Times

MARCH 15, 2023 16 WINTER TEXAN TIMES South Texas Ecotourism Center EXPLORE, PROTECT, EDUCATE 501 W. STATE HIGHWAY 100, LAGUNA VISTA, TX 78578 FREE ADMISSION OPEN DAILY 8AM-5PM 956-772-0212 WWW.STEC-LV.ORG WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/STECLV • LIVING EXHIBITS • VIEWING TOWER • DISPLAYS W/QR CODES • AMPITHEATER • SPACE RENTALS We Love Our Winter Texans! Thank you for making us your home away from home • Nightly, 7 Day Plus Rates Available • Fully Equipped Kitchens • Free Wi-Fi • Outdoor Pool • Small Pet Welcome (with fee) • Guest Laundry Service Walking Distance to the La PlazaMall and several restaurants. For Reservations 956-668-7829 700 Savannah Ave. McAllen, TX Lock In Your Rates For This Winter - Now! Winter Texan 7 Day Plus Special! $327.67 Queen Bed • $375.97 2 Full Size Beds PLEASE MENTION AD FOR SPECIAL! SPECIAL! 7 Day Plus Experience native landscapes at South Texas Ecotourism Center The South Texas Ecotourism Center (STEC) had its grand opening last year, but it’s still one of the newest nature centers in the Valley. STEC gives visitors the opportunity to experience the Valley’s native landscapes through displays and mini habitats on its property. The center has living models of six different ecosystems that can be found in the Rio Grande Valley. The center promotes the restoration and preservation of the native landscape and brings awareness of the plants and animals that are threatened in the Valley and live in these habitats. Throughout the center grounds, you can find signs that illustrate the plants and animals living in the habitats. The signs tell of what to look for, what the animals eat, and how to preserve the wildlife and vegetation. Overlook at STEC. Courtesy Photo Visitors can view wildlife from their 25-foot-tall outlook ramp that views into the coastal prairie behind the center. The ramp also offers little outlooks on your way up to the 25foot outlook area. There have been sightings of Nilgai, the Aplomado falcon, and so much more. There are also hundreds of native plants as well as a butterfly garden to enjoy. The center hosts weekly and monthly events. They often hold lecture series that talk about the native habitat, view documentaries about restoration projects, and more. This past season they had Richard Moore show a documentary about the restoration of the Bahia Grande and had a lecture by Javier Gonzalez who presented information about the Christmas Bird Count. The center is open every day, with free admission. The hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with staff and volunteers to greet and show you around. For more information, visit their website at walks. Friendly People Another big draw for Winter Texans, is the friendliness of the people in the Valley. Not only does that include neighbors in the parks or other parks, but also the people in the community who are happy to have Winter Texans here because they appreciate the economic benefits they bring to the Valley. There are “Welcome Home” fiestas as winter guests begin to arrive in the Fall. Most RGV communities host “Winter Texan Appreciation” events at the end of the winter season as well. Business owners and government officials will talk about relationships that were built, commonly calling the winter visitors more than just parttime visitors. “We’ve built relationships with so many of them,” said Jennifer Hart, co-owner with her husband of the popular Riverside Club along the Rio Grande in Mission. “A lot of them have truly become like family to us.” Texas even coined the endearing name “Winter Texan” for those adopted Texans from up north. WHY From pg. 11